The Africa They Never Show You

Initially, I was extremely excited about the new wave/movement that involved re-telling Africa’s stories from an African perspective. And then I grew weary of hearing talk of it all the time, saying to myself that all of a sudden we were being pretty unfair to those who are actually living in the conditions the media depicts.

However, I believe the personal place I am at now with the whole “New Narrative of Africa Movement” is to recognize that we all do ourselves a huge disservice when the story is too lopsided. I would love to showcase the good and maybe the not-so-good parts, knowing fully well that juxtaposing the good and the ugly should propel action.

While I definitely love this video (and actually didn’t even realize Africa was THAT beautiful! Good job!), I feel shortchanged. There is an Africa I know that has been portrayed in the media as truly impoverished, “messy” and hopeless. While this may not be far from the truth in some instances, I want to highlight that some of these “lowly” places have actually been for me authentic reflections of Africa’s beauty. For instance, you cannot just show me pictures of sky-scrapers and very Western edifices and not show me some very intricately designed “authentic African architecture’. Show me the Larabanga Mosque in Ghana, the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum or even Jubilee Terrace (since it is built in the shape of the Golden Stool.) Show me the pyramids in Egypt side by side with their skyscrapers. Show me Table Mountain in South Africa & the Masai Mara in Kenya. Show me the intricate cluster of mud houses in  Yamoransa, Central Ghana that lie peacefully under the beautiful orange-yellow horizon. They too are my Love & Pride. Yes, a lot of work must be done to improve those living standards but they must not be removed from our story. They are our watermark. They also define us.

Let’s give a balanced story, one that goes both ways. And let’s not brand one side of the story as better/more remarkable than others.

Like I always say, it is not the story-teller’s duty to gauge what the audience would prefer hearing. It is our duty to tell it as it is. As writers, speakers, narrators, our allegiance is first and foremost to the scripts that have birthed us.



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